Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Cyrano de Bergerac" by Edmond Rostand

I picked this book up a few months ago and immediately put it back down when I discovered that it was written in play form. But when I finally came back to it, though I prefer prose over a script, the reading of it went quickly. And, as an added benefit, the writing is straightforward and not difficult to follow.

Before reading, I had vague memories of Gérard Depardieu in a French film version, and Steve Martin in Roxanne, and big noses and love stories and panache; but I didn't remember any further details. I certainly didn't remember this is basically a "tragicomedy." The play is in five acts, and until the last one I would have called it a comedy, but Act Five changes the whole tone.

The translator of my edition made one grave misstep by using the word "plume" or "scarf" rather than the word panache, which means "plume" as well as "a flamboyant manner and reckless courage." I think the distinction is important, especially where Cyrano de Bergerac is concerned.

Did you know that de Bergerac was an actual historical figure? I had no idea, though--as wikipedia says--the character in "the play bears very little resemblance to the life of the actual person." But there are several interesting similarities between the character and his namesake. I didn't realize the real-life connection until after I finished reading, but several times as I read I wondered if Rostand ever thought that people would still be reading his play in book form more than a century after he wrote it.


Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

This reminded me that I used to read plays for fun back in the 80s-- I read lots of Neil Simon plays.

I've never read this but everytime we see a movie/show based on the premise-- hubby comments that cyrano was a real person-- otherwise I wouldn't have known.

Kathy said...

That is too funny, about your husband. But I have a feeling I'm going to be the same way! When an interesting tidbit of information lodges itself in my head, I can't help but pass it on at every chance.

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

haha-- yes, hubby is a compendium of useless information that he loves to tell-- I know all the triggers for each of his facts--- just wish he'd learn some new ones. ;o)